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French Onion Soup - Authentic Recipe from Steve Ross

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Many variations of onion soup are served, but the best, I believe, are true to the traditions of the bistros in Paris neighborhoods. Certainly, each kitchen has its own preferences (and we will offer options as well), but each preparation requires following a few essential steps - slow and thorough browning of the onions, simmering the broth and onions sufficiently to allow full flavor to develop and, finally, time in the oven to intensify these flavors.

Total preparation time is two hours or so. Only the initial browning requires close attention. The soup can b e made a day or two ahead, then reheated and baked just before serving. The results are worth the effort when compared to the pale onions and thin flavors which disappear under a thick layer of cheese in more common recipes.

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Ingredients

  • 6 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (Steve uses unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup white wine, optional
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 to 8 slices French bread
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or Swiss cheese or a mixture of either with Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 Cup Courvoisier Cognac (dry Madeira or Sherry is optional if you prefer one of these)

Details

Servings 6
Preparation time 120mins
Cooking time 120mins

Preparation

Step 1

Place a thick-bottomed 4-quart pot over medium heat and add olive oil (or unsalted butter).
Add onions and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Mix onions with oil (or butter) and salt, stirring until onions wilt. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring frequently until onions are a deep golden brown, approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

Do not let tips of slices burn.

Add white wine and boil down until it is nearly evaporated.

Add beef broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Then turn down to low and simmer partially covered for 45 minutes.

While soup is simmering, place bread slices on a sheet and place into a preheated 325-335°F oven until toasted golden brown.

To serve, preheat oven to 350°F.

Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste (little or no added salt may be necessary if canned broth was used).

Add the 1/4 cup of Courvoisier Cognac.

Ladle soup into oven-proof bowels.

Place a slice of bread into each bowl and divide the cheese among the bowls.

Place a sheet pan into the oven and place soup bowls into pan.

Bake until bubbling and cheese is slightly browned (20 to 30 minutes)

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